How Old is “Old”?

There’s a line from the song Strawberry Wine that says: “I still remember when thirty was old.”

I’m twenty-seven now, but I don’t think I ever, even as a little kid, thought thirty was old. I’m not sure what I’d say, though, if I had to give a number. NPR did a story once where they said that as we age, we just move the “old” line back to whatever the next decade is, so that even eighty-year-olds think of ninety as the “real” old.

Which makes a kind of sense. Age is relative, after all. And we grow up thinking of “old” as something that happens to other people, so it’s strange to apply it to yourself when you’re still the same you inside.

Someday – hopefully – I will be eighty years old. It’s a strange thought. And yet, not so strange. Betsy and I both say that we’ve been old for years: we don’t like loud music or late parties, we tend to stay home, our joints hurt, and we listen to the Beatles. Hell, I’m reading Dracula right now, and that was published in 1897. Will it really be so different when my body catches up with my brain?

Another unusual wrinkle for me personally is that I think we are headed, sooner or later, for a Technological Singularity. I think that someday, technology will advance to the point that people live forever. And I think there is a small but very real chance that this will happen in my own lifetime, and that I personally could become immortal.

It’s certainly not something that I’m counting on or particularly expecting, and I realize it may sound bizarre. But when I think about getting old, that’s out there, too. Who knows?

Well, I’m rambling now. Just another sign that I need a cane and a rocking chair.

Remember, you still have till the end of the week to ask Brian anything!

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9 responses to “How Old is “Old”?

  1. I think part of the focus on 30 is that in the 1960s that was supposed to be the line of demarcation. “Never trust anybody over thirty” and all that.

    And I think the “old” line does stop moving eventually. My mother is in her nineties and she knows she’s old. She does get annoyed that people see “old” as her most (or only) significant characteristic, but she admits that it does apply.

  2. Do you want to be immortal and why? (ask Brian Anything)

  3. I remember 27. It was fun, if stressful. I felt SO determined to Make It. Gah. I’m now 55 (Jesus that’s OLD) and pretty much have punched all my professional tickets. Now I’m bored. Booooooored. Bored and old. Attractive! There’s a woman on the same floor as us, in our apartment building, who is 98. I’m thinking that’s really old, and it makes me feel a little bit less geriatric.

    The problem with immortality is when do you stop the clock? If you do it at 25, you’re in fantastic physical shape — but (all due respect) not especially mature or wise. Do it in your 50s or 60s, meh. You’re smart but saggy. I leave the challenge in your capable YOUNG hands.

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